King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard

king solomons mines*Spoiler Alert

Henry Rider Haggard was born in Norfolk, England, in a large and rich family. At the age of 19, he went to Cape Colony (which later become South Africa), and continued his journey to African continent for seven years. He lived there, then married and begun his own family. He remained living in England from 1882 until his death in 1925. Haggard’s writing carrer started as soon as he returned to Britain. He became a prolific novelist and never retired. His most famous novel is King Solomon’s Mines. He published a less well-known sequel in 1887, Allan Quatermain.

This book was first published in September 1885, amid considerable fanfare, with billboards and posters around London announcing “The Most Amazing Book Ever Written”. It became an immediate best-seller. By the late 19th century, explorers were uncovering ancient civilisations around the world, such as Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, and the empire of Assyria. Inner Africa remained largely unexplored and King Solomon’s Mines, the first novel of African adventure published in English, captured the public’s imagination. This book beccame an opening door for a new genre of adventure.

This is my favorite quote:

“Slowly the sun sank, then sudden darkness rushed down on the land like a tangible thing. There was no breathing space between day and night, no soft transformation scene, for in these latitiudes twilight does not exist. The change from day to night is as quick and as absolute change from life to death.”

This is a story about an amazing adventure, that set in Africa. King Solomon’s Mines follows Allan Quatermain, a narrator, against the backdrop of endless desserts and snowy mountains, who was in his younger age, a hunter. He hunted animals, mostly elephants. In his quest to find his friend’s missing brother and figure out the fabled treasure of the biblical King’s mines, Allan is caught up in a tribal war and face fearful hardship, and finaly has to face a confrontation with the evil with Gagool.

Fun fact: This novel was turned into a film at least six times.

This story tells me on what man could do. Allan and his friends (Captain John Good, Sir Henry Curtis, and a sometwhat mysterious Umbopa) face starvation, famines, the coldness of snow, the scroching heat of the sun and many more. As the travellers travel, they come across a tribe ruled by a ruthless king who kills his brother and banishes his brother’s son, Ignosi and wife far into the dessert to die. There come a huge uproar when the mysterious guy, Umbopa is revealed to be the long lost Ignosi. There is a battle, between those who support the-now-Ignosi and the King. Gagool, as you may wonder, is a witch that has an impossibly long life. She is captured by Allan and his group, to stop her from  doing more evil. She relucantly leads Allan to the treasure, but she posses threat.

The book shows that in the 19th century, there was a big gap between black and white people. The whites hated the blacks in the hometown and the blacks seeked revenge on the white by killing them if they entered their hometown. There were a huge conflict between those two groups. At the present moment, the blacks are more equal in rights with the whites. I agree with this, but I am wondering why it took so long (two centuries) to the whites to finaly realized that we are all the same humans in this planet.

In my opinion, this story is not really a children story, because of the violance and disturbing language in the plot. However, it is more suitable for young adults.The grammar is difficult in the first few pages. After some chapters, I came to understand what the story was talking about.

Watch out for the book! It could posses you to want a sequel.

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